Taste of (another) City: San Juan, PR

This weekend, I fell in love with San Juan. Particularily, Old San Juan. Old San Juan is one square mile of colored buildings, blue cobblestones, and beautiful ocean views. I loved everything about it…

Including the food. First thing’s first….

The Coffee:

The coffee in San Juan is somewhere very high on the delicious spectrum. Every cup of coffee that I had in San Juan, whether it was from the hotel lobby, a little cafe, or a sit-down restaurant, was memorable. Smooth, strong, and not at all bitter. I’ve done some research, and coffee this good starts with the beans, and Puerto Rico has ideal soil conditions, elevation, and climate for growing coffee. This iced version of cafe con leche was hands-down my favorite cup, refreshing on a hot and humid morning. Long story short, my mornings are seriously lacking without these cafe con leches. I love frothly lattes, but these are so much better. And somehow, I forgot to buy some coffee to bring back to NYC, but I should be able to find some Puerto Rican coffee beans somewhere in this city, right?

My Favorite San Juan Breakfast – Mallorca:

I’ve discussed before my internal conflict when it comes to breakfast and brunch. Sweet or savory? It’s such a difficult decision, and one that I didn’t have to make when I ordered this Mallorca at Cafe Mallorca. The hybrid bread/pastry was toasted and filled with ham and cheese, dusted with a generous amount of powdered sugar. It satisfied both my sweet and savory breakfast cravings, so much so, that I was supposed to share it and totally forgot. I chowed down on the other half without thinking. Sorry Casey 🙂 The only thing that could have been improved this would have been a fried egg in the middle. Mallorca is another morning fare that I will miss.

Pasteles:

OK, these pasteles were truly unlike anything I’ve ever eaten it before. Mashed plantains surround the filling of chicken and other vegetables and the whole thing is boiled in a banana leaf. I enjoyed this pastele on the outskirts of the El Yunque rainforest. Not food related: El Yunque was one of the coolest, most unique outdoor surroundings I’ve ever experienced.

Piragua:

You can find Piragua everywhere you turn in Old San Juan. We enjoyed some before heading in to explore El Morro. The concept is simple: Iced is shaved off of a block and flavored syrup is poured on top, but the refreshing factor is unmatched. Piragua is just the thing to battle the San Juan sun while doing some sightseeing.

It’s Wednesday, but since I touched down at JFK on Sunday afternoon, I’ve been daydreaming about my trip: the sun, the sand, the blue cobblestones and brightly colored buildings, the company, and the white bean soup (more on that later). Can I go back now?

If you ever find yourself in San Juan, be sure to get yourself a cup of coffee, cool off outside with a Piragua, and indulge in a Mallorca.

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